updated 09:00 am EST, Tue December 11, 2007
Toshiba SCiB Battery
Toshiba on Tuesday revealed a technology it hopes will make lithium-ion batteries genuinely useful for cars and other vehicles. Named a Super Charge ion Battery (SCiB), the upgrade changes the negative electrode material, the electrolyte, and the manufacturing process to create a battery which is both extremely quick to recharge and reliable enough to replace older but tough nickel-metal hydride batteries. The substances and the design of battery cells do more than just prevent the battery from catching fire in the hot environment of a car, Toshiba says: they allow a very large current to feed the battery, allowing a typical battery to reach 90 percent capacity in five minutes.
The technology used also improves the longevity of the battery to the points expected for many cars and will last for more than 10 years even with daily use. It can also withstand high power demands and run at temperatures as low as -22F, according to the company.
Although SCiB is a more universal technology and could be used in other hardware, the initial version is intended for vehicles and should apply to hybrid cars and eventually pure electric cars, providing considerably more power than current battery packs. Bicycles, motorcycles, and work vehicles should also find it useful, Toshiba says. Actual batteries will ship in March 2008, though finished products will follow later.